Costa Rica 2022

Central America's Garden of Eden

Trip Scholar: Professor Nick Davies

Professor Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology, Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge

12-13 day tour
Price from 3,595

A jungle-clad jewel nestled between the Pacific and the Caribbean and fringed by powder white beaches, Costa Rica is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.  In this stunning setting, this exploration goes in search  of some of the world’s most unusual mammals such as sloths, tapirs and armadillos, as well as a host of monkeys and fabulous birds, from bright toucans, macaws and parrots to the highly prized resplendent quetzal.

Staying in carefully chosen lodges and hotels throughout, this tour sets itself apart with congenial companions and expert trip scholar.

With Zoologist and Ornithologist Professor Nick Davies, discover the waterways of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast and the lush rainforests, waterfalls and lakes of Arenal Volcano. Experience outstanding wildlife in the mist-covered Cloud Forests of Monteverde and jungle beaches of Manuel Antonio. Encounter squirrel monkeys, cheeky white-faced capuchins, white nosed coatis, birds such as roseates and northern jacanas and stunning butterflies such as the bluemorpho. Truly a paradise on earth, Costa Rica is utterly beguiling.

Tour highlights


  • Explore six different reserves, including the fascinating, but lesser-visited Tirimbina Rainforest and Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Encounter incredible birdlife, from bright toucans, macaws and parrots to the prized resplendent quetzal
  • Go in search of some of the world’s most unusual mammals including sloths, tapirs and armadillos
  • Spot squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchins and white-nosed coatis
  • Enjoy excursions including a ‘Sky Tram’ gondola through the treetops in the Arenal reserve and a night walk through primary rainforest

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1    Tour begins in San José, Costa Rica
Day 2    San José to Tortuguero
Day 3    Tortuguero
Day 4    Tortuguero to Sarapiquí
Day 5    Sarapiquí
Day 6    Sarapiquí to Arenal
Day 7    Arenal
Day 8    Arenal to Monteverde
Day 9    Monteverde
Day 10  Monteverde -Carara NP – Manuel Antonio
Day 11  Manuel Antonio
Day 12  Monteverde to San José for extensions or flights home.
Day 13  Those flying overnight return home today.

22 March - 02 April (22 March - 03 April including BA flight dates)
Twin/Double Occupancy£3,595 per person£750Approx £650 - £700 return per personAvailable

Optional flights
Temple World can arrange flights from London to coordinate with this tour. The cost is approximately £650-£700 return per person including taxes, and we have coordinated this tour to coincide with the scheduled days of operation of British Airways’  direct service to San Jose from London. We will arrange a group transfer to and from the airport to coincide with the flight arrival/departure time of this flight.

Booking your own flights
Clients wishing to use airmiles to buy or upgrade flights, or who wish to fly from a city other than London are advised to book their own flights.

The start and end point for the tour is SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica. Do be careful as there is also a San Jose airport in California – booking engines and even travel agents have been known to confuse the two. The correct airport code for the one in Costa Rica is SJO (Juan Santamaria International Airport).

On 22 March, the first day of the tour, there are no activities until dinner, so guests can arrive at any point during this day. Check in at the Presidente Hotel is from 2pm but bags can be stored there if guests arrive early. We will be happy to provide a quote for early check-in if needed.

On 02 April, the last day of the tour, we will be heading to San Jose from Manuel Antonio and aim to arrive around 12:00 for a light lunch before those on the recommended BA flight to London will be transferred to the airport to check in at around 2pm. Those who are continuing their trip and do not wish to return to San Jose may stay on in Manuel Antonio – you are welcome to stay at the hotel until check-out which is 12.00 midday, and we can quote for late check out or extra nights if required.

Please do not book any flights departing from San Jose on 02 April before 15:00 unless you are prepared to pay for a private 3 hour transfer from Manuel Antonio.

For those who need to take morning flights we advise staying overnight in San Jose and flying on 03 April. We will be happy to quote for hotels in San Jose or in the scenic countryside within reach of the airport.

Very Important! Those who plan to book their own flights should not make any binding or non-refundable arrangements until their place has been confirmed in writing on the tour and Temple World has confirmed that the tour is a guaranteed departure.

The tour price includes
Hotel accommodation in a twin or double bedded rooms with ensuite bathroom throughout, all excursions with local guides including entrance fees (except any optional excursions if mentioned), full board (except on first day, where no meals are included until dinner, lunches days 9 and 11, and after lunch on the last day),  expert trip lecturer.

Not included
International flights, travel insurance, drinks, tips to drivers & guides, lunches on days 9 and 11, items of a personal nature. Also not included are any visas or fit to fly test certificates for Covid which may be required for entry to Costa Rica. We provide guidance on what will be required to make complying with any entry requirements as simple as possible.

Single supplement £750.

Fitness Guideline:
We have graded the fitness level required for participation in this tour as Moderate. There is quite a lot of walking (not hiking) in the tour, on jungle trails and in rainforest conditions which can be a little wet and slippery. The pace will be slow enough to spot wildlife but will continue steadily for several hours in some cases, and there may not be anywhere to rest or sit down regularly.

It is important that everyone is able to keep up with the group as the guides will be looking for flora and fauna to point out to you throughout and the group must stay together.  Due to the nature of the terrain in some of the parks we don’t feel that this tour is suitable for anyone who uses a cane or frame to help with walking at home.  Hiking poles for those accustomed to taking longer walks are of course fine, and could be useful on the jungle trails.  If unsure whether this tour is suitable for you, please check with us.

We know that age is not always a reliable indicator of fitness, but prospective participants over the age of 80 will be given a letter to be signed by their GP to say they are fit enough to undertake this tour.


NHS Fit For Travel advises travellers to Costa Rica are usually recommended to immunise against: Hepatitis A. There is a risk of Malaria in parts of Costa Rica but the areas we are visiting are considered a low risk, so antimalarials are not usually advised. A Yellow fever certificate is required if entering from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please seek professional medical advice at least 8 week before departure. NHS Fit For Travel Website


UK and US passport holders do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica as a tourist. Nationals of a few countries may require a visa in advance, so please check with your local Costa Rican consulate before travel. Those transiting through the USA must have a valid ESTA (Electronic Travel Authority) prior to departure. These can be obtained at the dedicated ESTA website. Those who are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme may need to obtain a visa if transiting through the USA.

Flying time
10-11 hours direct.

Will my phone work
Costa Rica uses the 1800 and 850 MHz bandwidths as well as having 3G and 4G capability, so most UK mobile phones will work there even if they are not triband or quadband. Beware very high roaming charges though, and theft of foreign mobiles is unfortunately fairly common so the recommendation is to take an old (unlocked) phone and buy a local sim for use during your trip.

Trip Scholar

[The lecturer] was outstandingly good and well-nigh worth the whole cost of the tour on his own. As one would expect, his lectures were a model of how to communicate with an intelligent  but lay audience. Anthony

Professor Nick Davies
Professor Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Cambridge. An ornithologist and field naturalist, he has accompanied many previous alumni tours to great success. His research concerns the study of how behaviour evolves in response to selection pressures from ecology and the social environment. His current work focuses on the interactions between cuckoos and their hosts, and he has recently published ‘Cuckoo: cheating by nature’ (Bloomsbury), as well as having co-authored a number of definitive primers on Behavioural Ecology.

For those with a bit more time, we are delighted to offer a 4 night extension to Costa Rica’s famed Osa Peninsula.  The Osa Peninsula was once an island, and evolved in isolation until two million years ago when it joined the mainland. Almost entirely covered in primary rainforest, it is one of the last places in Costa Rica to have been settled by humans, and has been dubbed by National Geographic as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth’.   The extension is accompanied by the same excellent local naturalist guide that will be accompanying our main tour.

Our tailor-made team can arrange beach stays within Costa Rica, side trips or multi-country extensions to any of Costa Rica’s neighbouring countries, as well as stop-over stays if you are flying to Costa Rica via another country and would like to break your journey.  Scroll down for more information.


Optional Post-Tour: 3 night Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park

We have arranged an optional group post-tour with local guides to what National Geographic has termed “the most biologically intense place on earth”, the Parque Nacional Corcovado. The last great tract of original tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America, it is home to dozens of endangered species including Baird’s tapir, the elusive giant anteater and the spectacularly large harpy eagle.


02 April 2022   San Jose to Oso Peninsula
After lunch in San Jose on the final day of the tour, you’ll be transferred to the airport to catch a 45 minute flight to Palmar Sur in the south of the country. You will be met by your local guide and transferred to Sierpe from where a 90 minute boat journey down the Sierpe River then the Pacific coast, observing the mangrove wetlands on the way, takes you to Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge. Check in for a three night stay. The Four Star Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge offers the closest accommodation to Corcovado National Park and is set in lovely surroundings above a palm-fringed beach in 170 acres of private tropical rainforest. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the beach, hiking trails and swimming pools at the lodge.

03 April 2022  Corcovado National Park
Have breakfast at the lodge before beginning the day’s exploration. Starting out from the lodge with your naturalist guide head into Corcovado National Park. The cool morning hours offer a good opportunity to spot wildlife and to observe some of the incredible variety of birds that abound in the park. Along the trail your guide will have a chance to tell you some of the fascinating stories about life in the rainforest and you can hope to spot white faced capuchin, red-tailed squirrel, collared peccary, white nosed coati and northern tamandua, with birdlife including pairs of scarlet macaws and mangrove black hawk. Later, coming down through the forest you will find a river and then discover an incredible waterfall. Now is your chance to cool off in one of the shaded pools of the rushing river. Afterwards, you wind your way down the river until reaching the Park Station at San Pedrillo. There under shade trees on the beach you will enjoy a picnic with fresh fruit and ice-cold drinks. After lunch there will be time to explore the beach or to just relax. In the afternoon it’s a short distance along the coastal trail to return to the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Casa Corcovado Lodge.

04 April 2022    Osa Peninsula activities
Today’s morning tour starts after a leisurely breakfast, when you’ll meet your guide at the Gear House to select your flippers and mask. It’s then a 40-minute boat ride to the ‘Coral Garden’. At certain times of the year, you may also see pilot or humpback whales, and dolphin along the way. The snorkelling site is located within a marine reserve, and is a good place for spotting a wide variety of fish and marine mammals, including – if you are lucky – manta rays, turtles and small white-tipped sharks. The lodge’s inflatable diving vests can be adjusted to allow you to bob on the surface, fully supported, or dive down below, whichever you prefer. Accompanied by your guide, this is a great tour for beginners and experienced snorkellers alike. Guests usually snorkel for around an hour. A picnic lunch is laid out and served at the rancho on the Casa Corcovado long beach on your return. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at Casa Corcovado Lodge.

NOTE: If you would like to look for specific animals such as Baird’s tapirs, silky anteaters, ocelots, jaguars (v rare) you may need to take a different excursion on one of the two days (we recommend the lodge’s Sirena Park Station excursion for tapirs, for example), or possibly extend by another few nights to make sure you have time to visit the parts of the park best known for certain species at the right time of day or night.

05 April 2022   Osa Peninsula to San Jose and onwards
After a hearty breakfast, return up river to the town of Sierpe for a transfer to the airport and flight to San Jose, where the extension arrangements end. Those travelling on Temple World’s flights with BA will catch a flight at 15:10 overnight to London. Those on earlier flights may need to overnight in San Jose and fly tomorrow. Transfers back to San Jose and hotel accommodation is available to book instead for those who need it – please ask for a quote.

06 April 2022
Arrive back into London at around 08:45 this morning.

PRICE: £TBA per person, based on 2 sharing twin/double room – Please enquire. Single supplement £TBA.
INCLUDES: Air transfers to and from the Osa Peninsula, full board, shared guided transfers and excursions (provided by the lodge).
EXCLUDES: Drinks, tips, items of a personal nature.

Private extensions

For those who would like to add some relaxation time to the end of the tour,  nowhere could be better to wind down than the idyllic Pacific beaches of Guanacaste or the Papagayo Peninsula in northern Costa Rica.  Easily reached by road or short flight from San Jose, we can arrange stays of any length at top beach hotels and local boltholes. Our clients particularly like the boutique properties Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo and Hotel Nantipa in Santa Teresa, but we can also book large luxury resorts such as the Four Seasons Papagayo and Andaz.

Panama is right next door and very easy to reach, and has several island groups with emerging eco-tourism hotel options to stay and explore the local indigenous culture and pristine Caribbean snorkelling. Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago is actually closer to San Jose than Panama City and can be reached via a 50 minute direct flight. Combining an island stay at the rustic Tranquilo Bay or Punta Caracol,   with the glossy Waldorf Astoria or boutique Las Clementinas in cosmopolitan Panama City and a visit to the famous canal makes a perfect contrasting extension.

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[The lecturer] was excellent. The angle he took, the content, and the delivery almost made me want to return to the classroom. Glyn

Congenial Companions

Our small group tours are exclusively available to alumni of Oxford and Cambridge universities and their friends and family, making for a wonderful atmosphere amongst like-minded individuals.

Expert Lecturer

All our small group alumni tours are accompanied by a university lecturer as well as local guides, with illuminating lectures given throughout the tour to enrich understanding of the destination.

To reserve a place on one of our small group alumni tours, contact us for availability then send us a signed booking form and deposit.

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